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ACL food vendors scrambling after cancellation

Addie Broyles,Matthew Odam
abroyles@statesman.com

The first official rainout at ACL Festival not only led to some dejected fans and silenced bands, but among the hardest hit could be the 37 food and drink vendors as ACL Eats, who are now scrambling to figure out what to do with the thousands of dollars of unsold food and perishable ingredients. Vendors are also trying to move out expensive cooking equipment before more rounds of rain move in this afternoon.

Each vendor comes into the fest with a set number of items they intend to sell and a number of units they need to sell in order to make a profit. With 16 percent of their sales opportunities washed out, the vendors need to not only clean up, but they have to find something to do with all of their leftover product.

Daniel Northcutt, the owner of Frank restaurant and a vendor at this year’s festival, said he thinks C3 has handled the bad conditions well and doesn’t expect to be reimbursed for any of his vendor fees.

No stranger to the events and festival scene, Northcutt says these kind of events can be a gamble but it’s all part of the deal and you have to be prepared to weather these kinds of storms (both figurative and literal).

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out today,” Northcutt said. “But it’s all part of the game. This is what we do.”

Second Bar + Kitchen chef David Bull said that they will be doing their best to incorporate the excess food into standing menu items, including the pork belly banh mi, which was such a hit at the festival last year that they added it to the restaurant’s permanent menu. Bull said they’ll also be donating a portion to the food bank.

Dan Stacy, who runs The Seedling Truck, was at Zilker Park early this morning when he started hearing that officials would probably cancel today. “Our booth was completely destroyed over night, so I was a little relieved,” he says. “There was no way I was going to be able to operate today.”

Organizers asked him and others in the food court to leave the grounds because of safety issues with electrical wires, but Stacy says that all-in-all, “I didn’t lose a whole lot of product,” he said, because they were loading each day’s worth of product every morning. His equipment is mostly salvageable, and the ingredients they can’t donate to the food bank will be reused at the actual food truck, which is parked at Midway Food Park.

Stacy said that the manager of the ACL food court said that C3 Presents would likely refund part of the vendor fees. “It’s nice that they thought of that. I’d say they are doing a commendable job handling this.”

He was most concerned about the lost wages and tips for the dozen or so staffers who were scheduled to work today. Stacy says he was able to reassign some of them to other events today, including at least one wedding.

“Our revenue was up 30 percent over last year, and even with how today went, it was a good year,” he said. “Today kept it from being a great year.”

Torchy’s Tacos owner Mike Rypka didn’t find out about the festival cancellation until early Sunday afternoon, when he was biking down to Zilker Park to help out.

News was slow to get to his on-site manager, too. “He got down there early this morning and started prepping and was like, ‘Why is no one showing up?’,“ Rypka says.

Rypka says that they are looking at losing at least $5,000 to $10,000 worth of food. “We might have been able to repurpose some of it if we could get in there,” he says. “All of the produce, we’ll probably have to throw away…It’s a damn shame.”

Here is a full list of the vendors from this year’s (two-weekend) ACL Fest, as well as our recap of what they are serving from last week’s Austin360.